STL Science Center

STL Science Center

23 December 2011

Enter the Realm of Debate

I thought a long time what to do with this week's dinosaur. The reason is, as a kid, you grow up caring little for the quibbles and fights of grown men even in your favorite things. As such, I grew up ignoring the debate over the placement of Monoclonius in the dinosaur family. Peter Dodson calls it the female Styracosaurus, others call it a Centrosaurus, and in some cases it has even been enveloped into Chasmosaurus and Brachyceratops. The type skeleton, Monoclonius crassus, is about the only one that has escaped total inclusion into another genus or species and this is mainly not debated only because it lacks so many features that it's hard to place it in one area or another. Fifteen species, in total have come and gone as they were found to be juveniles, sub-adults, female specimens perhaps even.

Given all that information, is there even really a point to continuing a week dedicated to a nearly dubious dinosaur? For nostalgia, yes, completely. For science, yes, entirely. Without the failures, mistakes (and this is far more mistake than failure given that we have none of these animals to study and that we do not always get the luxury of pulling a family of five straight from the earth to see male, female, baby to adult), and even totally laughable errors, we cannot move on in science. This blog has discussed Styracosaurus. So this week, my aim is going to be to show how Monoclonius (which takes its name from its teeth, not its single horn), has been lumped into Styracosaurus and Centrosaurus so easily. Plus there are some wonderful pop culture and movie sources from the 80's that I would be completely remiss to ignore just because science has forsaken the Monoclonius. Besides, I can also discuss Centrosaurus a fair amount as well this week and give both their fair due; I'm on vacation after all!

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